Jessabelle (Blu-ray Review)

JessabelleFrom the mastermind producer behind Insidious and The Purge comes the ghostly tale of Jessabelle. The haunting, supernatural thriller, directed by Kevin Greutert (Saw VI, Saw 3D: The Final Chapter), written by Robert Ben Garant (Hell Baby, Night at the Museum) and starring Sarah Snook, Mark Webber and Joelle Carter, has arrived on Blu-ray (plus Digital HD), DVD (plus Digital) and Digital HD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.  Jessabelle gives us another haunted tale in the land of the Bayou.  While Saw 3D was absolutely abysmal, I did like Saw VI a lot, so I wanted to see Kevin Greutert away from a Saw film he was sorta forced to make and onto a horror film maybe he was a bit more passionate about directing.

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Returning to her childhood home to live with her estranged father in Louisiana to recuperate from a horrific car accident claiming the lives of her boyfriend and unborn child, Jessabelle comes face to face with a long-tormented spirit that has been seeking her return and clearly has no intention of letting her escape.  With the assistance of VHS tapes left behind by her tarot card reading mother, Jessabelle hopes to find help in ridding of this phantom and learn the truth of about her family’s deceitful and disturbing past.

Funny enough, the first thing you think or when you see a movie called Jessabelle coming out the week before Annabelle hits Blu-ray is that old “accidental rental by association” or “cash in with close title relation” type of steal.  Oddly, Jessabelle comes from the Blumhouse, who is are also the people behind The Conjuring spin off movie Annabelle.  So, I guess they are pulling those strings themselves.

First, I think Jessabelle is actually directed and executed very well.  Its not some cheapie straight-to-video horror film that the box art cost more money than the film.  The film features some genuinely spooky sets, scenarios and effects.  And its decently acted.  I was tickled to see Joelle Carter from Justified get a nice little role in something, even if its just asking her to bring that sort of persona with her.  And for a brief moment in this film we get a bit of Amber Stevens, who I enjoyed in last summer’s 22 Jump Street.

What’s wrong with Jessabelle is that this film is one that’s so overdone that its completely tired.  A film where you know the starting point and ending point almost out of the gate, and you really don’t care much about how they are filling in the middle because you know what they’re getting to.  It has some really nice ideas and setups, but as Bruce Willis once told Kevin Smith, its all “Chuffa”.  Horror has been really beating in these hauntings and poltergeist stories, that this might be one that turns out to be some “unappreciated” film years down the road because it was lost among the fold.  Personally, I don’t think the script is that good to go back and think so, but I could see people maybe rediscovering it.

I’ve not seen Jessabelle, but from what I gather its probably not much better.  Though, Brian White and I have scored these two movies similarly.  When you look to the Rotten Tomatoes scoring, Jessabelle sits at 26% with Annabelle winning the battle at 29% (Nothing to brag about).  So, from that you can gather that neither of the movies in this bout are worth your time to sit down and decide.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: The picture quality fares better than that of the film’s quality.  Its a vivid, sharp picture with a nice attention to plenty of detail. From wood grain and surfaces to clothing fabric, this looks terrific.  Its very nice and clear but still retaining a film-type of quality to it and not looking super digital.

Black Levels:  In darker scenes, a little bit of detail can be hidden.  But most of the time the blacks do some nice shading and enhancing of sharpness.

Color Reproduction: There’s a blue-ish tone to the color timing in this one.  Blues stick out and most of the colors tend to pop in well lit daytime scenes.  Much of it is sort of the colorless bayou so it has to rely on clothing to which it does a good job of being bold.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and well detailed, especially in close ups.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  For as much as I was bored with this film, this 5.1 track did a great job of keeping my attention.  Its loud and has a good amount of fun playing with its volume levels, placement and intensity.  It sounds good and crisp throughout and should have you jump at least one time or another purely based on audio gimmicks.  Damn that ghost can shriek loud as hell!

Low Frequency Extension: Jump scares get a big boost here from the subwoofer.  Many action moments contains some good bumps and the like, too.

Surround Sound Presentation: There are some good ambient moments and plenty of eerie noise coming from the rear speakers.  The front speakers have their fun, but also keep accurate to what is happening onscreen.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Clean, loud and well placed.

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Jessabelle comes with an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Kevin Greutert, Writer Robert Ben Garant And Executive Producer Gary Jacobs – I forgot to mention in my review, that this movie was written by one of the members of Reno 911! and The State, how crazy is that?

Jessabelle: Deep In The Bayou (HD, 9:14) – A making of that is more on the brief, promo fluff side of things.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 7:48)

Outtakes (HD, 2:39)

Extended Ending (HD, 1:11)

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I’m sure there’s some hounds out there that will dig into this regardless.  But, really, its a bit too “been there, done that” for me.  However, Jessabelle does have a great presentation and does come with a solid array of extras for those wanting to know more.  I wouldn’t recommend the film, but for those who liked it, I would recommend this Blu-ray release for purchase.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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